"Jesus does not resurrect for himself but for us. He wants to show us the way to resurrection," writes Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche.
Jesus dies because he loves. He loves his disciples but he also loves those who are killing him. Jesus is madly in love with all of humanity. He knows that by giving himself completely, he is offering life to others.
The death of Jesus is paradoxically fruitful. Jesus does not choose to die; rather, he chooses to love and it is this total, absolute, and gratuitous love that leads to his death.
I don’t think we can look at Good Friday without remembering Holy Thursday. On Thursday, at the Last Supper, Jesus takes bread and says, "Take this, all of you, and eat, for this is my body.” We recognize here Jesus’ desire to live within us, to be with us in our vulnerability. Then he kneels and washes the feet of his disciples. Only in the light of these two acts, these two gifts, can we understand Friday's death on the cross. The gift of love precedes Jesus’ death.
And finally, love is stronger than death. This is the mystery of Easter morning. Jesus does not resurrect for himself but for us. He wants to show us the way to resurrection - not only the resurrection of the body at the end of time, but also a progressive resurrection, like a slow and patient maturation in our daily life.
We need to recognize that Jesus invites us to be transformed men and women. We are called to let the seed of grace grow in us so that our ways of looking, our perceptions, our imaginations, our bodies, and our feelings are transformed. Little by little, we need to learn to look at others as God looks at them.
This is what faith is. Most of the time we look at others from our wounds, our fragilities, our fears. Our resurrection involves a very slow transformation in which the Holy Spirit gradually transforms our minds and our hearts so that we become genuine daughters and sons of God.
Does the theme A future full of hope, chosen by the province this year, cause us some doubt? Are we afraid of being swept into realms beyond any realistic possibility? Yet the apostle Peter (1 Peter 3: 15) encourages us to account for the hope that is in us. Let us take a look at the foundations of our hope. What is our hope today? What does it mean to be a witness to hope? How does hope transcend time?
Hope is like an anchor for our lives. Heb. 6: 19
Various biblical texts show us the hope of people such as Abraham, Moses, and Mary who, called and led by God, set out on a journey. Committing themselves to the unknown, they placed their trust in a God of justice and tenderness. For the Jewish people, the emotions expressed in the psalms (e.g. Psalms 62, 80, 126) reveal the great depth of human experience and of the hope that the Jewish people place in God. With the coming of Christ, our Christian hope took shape. Without freeing us from our sometimes chaotic existence, hope opens up for us new passageways, new horizons. It makes us heirs of the promise for a future full of life. It leads us to believe that God acts through the Spirit (Heb. 6: 11-12) who gives our hope an incredible dynamism, a strength that surpasses us completely.
R/ You are our hope, Lord. May our lives be rooted in You.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
These words of wisdom by singer Leonard Cohen could apply to our present situation.Hope means believing in the light despite the pessimistic images that haunt our screens; trusting in the future despite our feelings of loss and our uncertainties. Hope makes us confident that our relationship of intimacy with God can illuminate our darkness and hope lead us to anticipate all that is good for ourselves and for our world. Hope encourages us to share with others our life experience and our vision of the world. Hope is a gift that is lived in the here and now, in the risen Jesus. It is meant to keep us alive, on mission, to the end of our lives and into eternity.
R/ You are our hope, Lord. Enlighten our decisions.
You are a letter that has come from Christ, given to us to deliver: a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God ... on the pages of the human heart. 2 Cor. 3: 3
Our Constitutions "challenge us to become signs and prophets of the kingdom, in a world which, today as yesterday, is searching and ever hopeful for the future." (No. 7). How can we do this?
Without a doubt, by our quality of being and our attitudes of authenticity, compassion, solidarity, openness, prayer, acceptance of reality. Through community discernment, we seek to actualize our charism, to share it; to express our spirituality "by our words and by our manner of life" (Constitution 10); to denounce injustice, to show concern for the most vulnerable. Thus, we seek to be witnesses of God’s presence wherever we are.
R/ You are our hope, Lord. Make us witnesses of your love.
Our present, rooted in the past, has a long history, but remains open to the future. Throughout 2018, we recalled and commemorated our 175 years of existence and of commitment to the Church. We became more aware of the fact that the transmission of our values has taken place throughout all of our history. Whether we are aware of it or not, we transmit a little of who we are in every one of our interactions. That is a reason for hope! And, turning to the hope revealed by Christ, religious life has always been able to renew itself, seeking to respond to the needs of the men and women of each age, and to offer to the world one of the most beautiful gifts of all, HOPE.
R/ You are our hope, Lord. Help us to live and share our inherited legacy.
Reflection and Sharing
Simone Perras, SNJM
in collaboration with the Provincial Leadership Team